Bale’s Real Madrid are at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday evening for the first leg of their UCL semi-final, with the Citizens set to play in a final-four bout for the first time ever, having advanced past the quarter-finals for the first time following a 3-2 aggregate victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the last round.
While City have played in the Champions League for the last five seasons, after first qualifying in 2011-12, they have consistently underachieved when considering their spending and relative domestic success.
For their first two seasons in the tournament, they were dumped out in the group stage, before reaching the second round in both 2013-14 and 2014-15—losing to Barcelona on both occasions after losing all four legs.
This year, City are looking to reach the final, having bested Dynamo Kyiv in the round of 16 before seeing off the French champions in the next round.
Speaking to the media ahead of Tuesday’s showdown—as per Goal—Bale has admitted that he is surprised that City have taken until now to reach the final eight.
“I’m surprised that they haven’t got here earlier,” Bale began. “They’ve progressed over the years.
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“They’ve been a force in the Premier League, and are starting to be in Europe,” he continued. “Hopefully we can stop their progress now.”
Intriguingly, the last time City didn’t qualify for the Champions League was in the 2010-11 season, when they were pipped to the UCL by Bale’s Tottenham Hotspur!